|Former Central Yavapai Fire Chief Dave Curtis, right, headed for New York this week with Mesa volunteer Mike Creeden. The two are driving an emergency response vehicle from Prescott, and will use the vehicle to drive door-to-door in storm-stricken areas to hand out food, water and other supplies.|
Courtesy Photo/Red Cross
Special to the Tribune
When former Central Yavapai Fire District Chief Dave Curtis retired in 2007, he began to look for a way to give back to the community. He signed on with the Red Cross, and this week, he's headed to New York to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Curtis, who now lives in the Verde Valley, and Mike Creedon of Mesa will drive a Prescott-based emergency response vehicle to Queens, New York, where they will work with more than 3,800 other Red Cross volunteers.
Red Cross spokesman Brian Gomez said the organization normally draws from surrounding states for volunteers and emergency vehicles when a disaster occurs. But the need for assistance with Sandy is so great, the Red Cross is deploying personnel and equipment from throughout the U.S.
The vehicle that Curtis and Creedon will drive is an ERV that resembles an ambulance. They will drive the vehicle to Queens loaded with minimal equipment, and then pick up supplies there to distribute where they're needed. Gomez said those supplies will include water, food, coffee, first aid and cleaning items.
Though Curtis and Creedon will arrive some 10 days after the monster storm passed through, Curtis said he still expects to find plenty of people who need help.
"The Red Cross sends out food and water for people who are working around houses, cleaning up. We'll have cleaning supplies, bug spray, mops and brooms," he said.
Curtis said the volunteers also serve to find people who need help. If they find people in trouble, they can pass that information on to emergency personnel.
"We'll be around the community, and seeing what needs to be done," he said.
Curtis served after Hurricane Isaac in a little Mississippi town that still was decimated after Hurricane Katrina.
"We went right after the last election. Prior to Katrina they had 20,000 residents. When we went, there were about 4,000. They had minor to moderate flooding in Isaac. It wasn't whole scale destruction like this one. I think this (New York area) will be much worse," he said.
Curtis said the Red Cross, both locally and nationally, needs more volunteers.
"It's not a full time job," he said. "People do what they can do, when they can do it."
He added that many scams will come out of the Hurricane Sandy disaster, but he is confident that the Red Cross is a safe place to donate.
Contact the local Red Cross at 928-445-4981 to donate or get more information on volunteering.